Sunday, February 21, 2010

Facing Facts

It's been a good weekend for facing facts. Yes, we are going to have to do some gutter repairs after the Blizzard of 2010. Yes, the shed is a goner due to the weight of the snow. Sometimes, as fascinating as a class is, you know that due to circumstances beyond your control (see the aforementioned blizzard), you may be too far behind to ever catch up. As much as you'd like to, you're not going to lose any weight before that trip you're planning. And then there's the knitting.

You know that moment in the Olympic downhill skiing where the Olympic hopeful becomes a giant snowball with head, arms, and ski tips sticking out? That would be what happened with my Olympic knitting this year.

It started out well enough.

I had the pattern, the yarn, the needles, and the recipient lined up.

I signed up for Stephanie's Olympics and cast on while watching the Opening Ceremony. I figured out how many inches I'd have to knit each day, and started the sleeves as my travel knitting.

Here we are a week later, and I'm taking stock. I've discovered mistakes along the way, but they were nothing I couldn't live with as, ahem, design elements. No, the snowball moment came when I measured the sleeve length to find out how much I had to go to reach the proper length after finishing the increases. Uh-oh. A negative number. Really?

Yes, really. A quick check of gauge revealed that despite knitting with the yarn called for on the needles called for, I was completely off gauge. I'm not anti-swatching. I've swatched a recent project to a fair-thee-well, because I'm messing with the pattern, yarn, and needles. But I wasn't modifying this pattern in any way, so I didn't swatch.

You can't show me many Olympic champions who haven't done the proper training.

Now I could finish this sweater in a week. But it wouldn't fit the recipient. And that would be a pretty hollow victory. So my friends, avert your eyes as I frog this pretty thing back to its constituent skeins, and begin again, two entire needles sizes down from those called for.

Because the point is to make a pretty sweater for my daughter, not win a race.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Catching up

There's a blue jay in there - see him?

So I'm back on line after 56 hours without electricity thanks to our first February blizzard of 2010. Really, calling it the Blizzard of '10 as if there couldn't possibly be another was just asking for it. And don't even get me started on cutesy names like Snowmageddon and Snowpocalypse. Over-exaggerate like that and the universe will show you what words actually mean.

We've dealt with the 2-3 feet of snow (impossible to measure accurately with all the blowing and drifting), and restocked for the next nor'easter, arriving in a few hours. I'm scheduling this to post tomorrow, whether we have power or not (thanks, internet!).

The undeniable truth about being snowed in and without electricity is that it makes you glad you're a knitter, on so many levels. I have never been so happy that I own multiple pairs of hand-made, personally-fitted, wool socks as I have been this week. My semi-felted jaywalkers that fit like gloves for feet are my favorite for wearing under boots while shoveling. And to think I was sad when they first shrunk a little in the wash and I thought they were too warm!

One of the primary benefits of knitting is that it prevents boredom. In the evenings, huddled under blankets in a room lit and mildly warmed by 24 (of course we counted) votive-sized candles all gathered on the coffee table, knitting turned out to be easier on the eyes than reading.

Knitting? I'm glad you asked. In January I made my son is first-ever pair of handknit socks, because he was finally going to be somewhere cold enough to wear them. And he approved.

Yarn: Patons Kroy Socks FX in Cadet Colors, 2 skeins
Needles: #3 dpns
Pattern: Standard toe-up sock sized for a 9 1/2 inch foot, Wendy's wonderful toe-up gusset heel, 2x2 rib uppers.

Then I fired off a pair of socks for NKD (both of these were Christmas promises), striving to achieve something reminiscent of stars and galaxies. She was pleased.

Yarn: Berroco Socks Metallic in Curacao, 1 skein
Needles: hmm. I was borrowing Knitpicks Harmony dpns from a friend just before I bought my own set. I believe it was the 2.75 mm size.
Pattern: Well. I started with Charybdis (Ravelry link), then made so many modifications I may have lost track. I changed the number of sts around to accommodate her smaller foot, and adjusted the number of sts between spirals accordingly. I did lifted increases instead of yarn overs, because it's too cold for lacy socks. I worked Wendy's above-mentioned toe-up gusset, because experience has shown that a short-row heel will not go over her foot (and because left to myself, I would never work any other heel ever). After the first full spiral up the leg I increased one stitch in every spiral by working an increase row without the corresponding decreases between two normal pattern rows, and worked the extra sts into the pattern. I did it again when the next full spiral started, so that the fit expands slightly up her leg, and mimics the widening spirals of a galaxies arms.

The odd thing was that I only used half of a 100-gram skein of yarn (really? two socks out of 50 grams? How the heck did I do that?). I picked out a possibilities and she settled on this hat, which matches nicely (and look how much yarn I had left!):

Yarn: Leftover Berocco Socks Metallic
Needles: #3 dpns
Pattern: Sheepytime's Swirl Hat (Ravelry link), no mods whatsoever

Finally, my snow knitting has been Calluna in Knitpicks Gloss HW (Wine). I made a total botch of the first attempt from failing to read the pattern closely enough, despite all the discussions on Ravelry, and am now on my second. The charts read in alternate directions for each row. How did I miss that? Meanwhile, I'm not slip-stitching up the front edges (I slip-stitch the edges of scarves, but this is fine as it is). I'm not knitting the button band separately (although I swore I would do that on my husband's next sweater), nor am I working short rows into the garter edging. The slight difference in length just doesn't bother me. I haven't decided about buttonhole placement yet.

And now I'd better finish shoveling off the deck!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

A moment between blizzards

My husband has a new love. I realized it was serious when I noticed I wasn't hearing any more talk about the house he's building for us; now it's all about the house he's building for her. Right in our own backyard! She's younger, of course. Much younger. And she was there for him - all right, for us - in our time of need. But still.

Not to mention the family betrayal - she's my brother-in-law's cast-off, which I'm sure makes my sister happy. Although I don't think he cared for her as much as much as my husband does, since he kept her isolated in a small place close to his office.

And really, what can I say about it, when it's clear we're going to need her again, right away.

Just wait until spring.